|Activism is building up in Kodagu with local environmentalists campaigning hard against any new railway proposals on the grounds that it is inimical to the ecology of the district.|
This includes the Mysuru-Madikeri railway line for which the survey work has already been completed. The other project is the Mysuru-Thalassery railway line, the survey of which was approved in the general budget for 2017-18.
The Mysuru-Madikeri railway line was listed in the Railway Budget 2016-17 under “new line” category at an estimated cost of ₹667 crore and the techno-economic survey was completed. But the project — originally mooted over 100 years ago — did not gain further traction. The funding was to be made under the extra budgetary allocation, but it is stuck in the maze of bureaucracy.
Similarly, the Mysuru-Thalassery railway line was mooted almost 60 years ago but it remained on paper. However, there is fresh traction for a new survey reckoned to have a new alignment so as to bypass the forestland, national parks and so on and avoid eco-sensitive zones.
But a senior official in the Forest Department told The Hindu that the proposal was still in a “very preliminary stage” and it was too premature to comment on its likelihood of securing environmental clearance. However, the project has political support in Kerala as it reduces the travel time between North Kerala and Bengaluru, he added.
Meanwhile, C.P. Muthanna of Coorg Wildlife Society (CWS), said that they have already expressed their opposition to railway lines to Kodagu. “The State government has been apprised of the negative environmental fallout of railway projects passing through Kodagu as a whole and district in-charge Minister M.R. Seetharaman has agreed to write to the Centre opposing it,” said Mr. Muthanna.
Besides, Kodagu is already saddled with high human-elephant conflict and such projects would dismember or disturb the habitat further and accentuate the conflict, according to CWS.
The organisation recently conducted a Save Cauvery rally expressing fears over the environmental implications of major infrastructure projects that could cut through the forest area of the district and erode its green cover.